Baylor appears to be back on the right side of the bubble after a strong run over the past two weeks.
Coming off a difficult stretch that had the Bears teetering away from
an NCAA tournament bid, they put themselves back in the conversation
with a four-game winning streak capped by Saturday's decisive road
victory over West Virginia.
"We've got to keep working hard to get to the tournament," said
Baylor's Royce O'Neal, who scored a season-high 22 points against the
Mountaineers. "But this means a lot against a good team that had been
It's certainly a good step for a team that had been reeling.
Baylor opened the season 13-2, its only losses to Syracuse and Iowa State.
After that, the Bears went into a near freefall, losing eight of
their next 10 games to go from what seemed to be an NCAA tournament lock
to a team needing a strong push at the end of the season.
Baylor started the stretch run with a dominating win over TCU, then
padded its resume with victories over Kansas State and Oklahoma State.
The win over West Virginia put the Bears at 18-9 overall and 6-8, with an RPI of 40.
There's still work to do and the final four games of the regular
season won't be gimmes, but Baylor is in much better position than it
was just two weeks ago.
Here's a look at some of the other teams that rose and fell from the NCAA tournament bubble over the past week:
SMU. The Mustangs, as you might recall, were among the teams
teetering on the bubble last week. They moved a few steps away from it
with a pair of victories last week. SMU took care of business with a win
over Houston, then strengthened its NCAA credentials by knocking off
No. 21 Connecticut in Storrs. That moved the Mustangs to 22-6 and back
into The Associated Press poll at No. 23.
BYU. A road loss to Pacific could have put a dent in the Cougars'
NCAA chances. Three straight wins, including Thursday night's 73-65
shutdown of No. 25 Gonzaga has them looking pretty good now. BYU (19-10,
11-5 WCC) has a solid RPI of 33 and one of the nation's toughest
schedules, with five of its 10 losses to teams that were ranked at the
Stanford. Already peeling away from the bubble, the Cardinal picked
up a massive victory over the weekend, knocking off No. 23 UCLA at home.
Stanford is 18-8 overall, 9-5 in the strong Pac-12 and an RPI of 39.
Barring a late-season meltdown, the Cardinal appear to be in good shape.
Dayton. Archie Miller's Flyers were one of college basketball's
surprises early in the season, earning them a spot in The AP poll (at
No. 25) for the first time since 2009. A string of five losses in six
games hurt Dayton's NCAA chances, but the Flyers (19-8, 7-5 Atlantic 10)
have gotten back on track at the right time, heading into Tuesday
night's game against Saint Joseph's on a six-game winning streak.
Mississippi. The Rebels had a big opportunity to solidify their NCAA
resume last week and came up short with losses to Kentucky and Florida.
Ole Miss is 16-11, has lost four straight and six of eight, and an RPI
of 80, so it's likely going to take a big push to get into the Big
Minnesota. Two solid wins over Indiana and Northwestern put the
Gophers back into the NCAA tournament conversation. A pair of lopsided
losses to Illinois and Ohio State last week have them sliding off the
bubble. Minnesota (17-11) has lost six of eight and, at 6-9 in the Big
Ten, may need a strong run in the conference tournament to get into the
Xavier. The Musketeers (18-9) had been one of the Big East's leading
bubble contenders, but a lopsided loss to fellow bubbler Georgetown
could hurt their chances. Xavier did beat Cincinnati earlier in the
season, but most of its good wins were against teams scrapping for
at-large spots as well. The Musketeers could use a win over Creighton on
Saturday or Villanova in its season finale to make a better case.
Tennessee. Texas A&M could be the Vols' ticket out of the dance.
Tennessee has played one of the nation's toughest schedules and has some
decent wins, but a season sweep by the 118th-in-the-RPI Aggies could
hurt when Selection Sunday rolls around. The Vols' overtime loss to
Texas A&M on Saturday was their third in four games and they'll need
to finish the regular season strong and maybe make a run in the SEC to
get into the field.